Mass rapid coronavirus testing plan for Hampshire key workers
A MASS coronavirus testing programme could be rolled out across Hampshire as early as this month, it has been revealed.
Transport workers, childminders, retail staff, construction and maintenance workers as well as volunteers – including those supporting local councils and emergency services – could have access to rapid lateral flow tests this month.
The move will aim to identify asymptomatic residents in a bid to stop the spread of coronavirus.
The news comes as Hampshire County Council has confirmed it is finalising a bid to central government for support in setting up community testing sites across the county.
Final locations are yet to be determined, the council said.
The authority confirmed the bid will be submitted “in the next few days” but an exact date has not been revealed.
The council said it hopes to hear back from the government by mid-February.
If approved, the authority said it would hope to begin a phased roll-out of an initial six-week testing programme before the end of February.
In a statement a spokesperson for the county council said: “If we are successful in our bid, this testing option will be aimed at anyone who has to leave their home to get to work, and where there may be a higher risk of exposure to the virus.
"This includes local authority frontline workers, those who work in early years settings such as childminders and private nurseries, retail staff including supermarkets, construction and maintenance workers, transport workers and volunteers including those supporting local authorities and emergency services in providing a welfare response to local residents.”
Dr Simon Bryant, the Hampshire director of public health, previously said those who test positive will be asked to self-isolate and take a PCR test.
He added: “We know that one in three people with the virus may not have symptoms and therefore it is crucial that we have a testing option available that supports asymptomatic people to access testing quickly and easily.
"If our bid is approved, this community testing option will be available to those who are not able to work from home and who are not covered by an alternative workplace testing scheme.
"Having access to fast and effective testing is key to helping limit the spread of the virus, both for those with symptoms, and for those without who may unwittingly be passing it on to others.
"Anything we can do to help prevent this is very welcome.”